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Opening and closing checklists are incredibly important assets for servers. Referencing a clear-cut yet thorough list makes it easier for everyone to ensure that the business is operating smoothly and ready for service.

Checklists reduce forgetfulness, decrease human error, shorten the amount of time it takes to complete a task, and increase the quality of each task’s execution. Plus, who doesn’t love the satisfaction of ticking off accomplishments as they’re completed?

Making sure that there’s a server opening and closing checklist to follow will help keep your establishment neat and clean. According to research by P&G Professional, 85% of customers agreed that dining in a clean restaurant is just as important as food quality.

We put together examples of server opening and closing checklists to help you stay organized and keep your space sparkling. Some duties and additional side work may not be applicable to your establishment, so use these examples as a guide when creating your own customized version.

Once you highlight the items that apply to you, you can rest assured that the bulk of your restaurant opening and closing duties checklist will be covered.


Opening Checklist

Before you’re officially open for the day, you want to make sure your staff can get in and get the restaurant set up. Start with these key tasks:  

  • Turn on lights and music.
  • Turn on your Point of Sale system.
  • Sign in or punch in.
  • Refill receipt paper.
  • Take count of any money in the register.
  • Sweep or vacuum floors.
  • Remove chairs from tabletops and position them neatly around the table.
  • Ensure that all chairs and tables are sturdy.
  • Place table settings.
  • Stock every station with clean glassware and silverware.
  • Fill water pitchers.
  • Reference reservations list and be aware of any special requests or other notes regarding the upcoming service.
  • Check with the kitchen about daily specials or other changes to the menu.
  • Make sure bathrooms have been cleaned and restocked with essentials, like soap and toilet paper
  • Flip the sign on your door from “Closed” to “Open.”

Half of the challenge of running a restaurant is managing your staff: Download our Server Success Guide now.

Closing Checklist

When it’s time to close up shop for the night, you want to do as much prep as you can so that the restaurant will be ready for the next day’s opening. Here are some of the most important items for your restaurant closing checklist:

  • Flip sign on door from “Open” to “Closed.”
  • If your front door is glass, wipe it down to remove fingerprints.
  • Wipe down and sanitize menus.
  • Wipe down and sanitize tables, counters, booths, high chairs, booster seats, and any other open surfaces.
  • Refill condiments, salt, pepper, and sugar.
  • Restock paper napkins.
  • Place chairs on table.
  • Empty all water pitchers.
  • Clean and sanitize soda dispensers.
  • Dry off all freshly-cleaned glassware and silverware.
  • Put glassware and silverware away.
  • Fold table linens and napkins.
  • Take out trash, spray bins with cleaner, and replace with new bags.
  • Wipe down and sanitize bathroom counters and sinks.
  • Turn off coffeemaker; clean and sanitize.
  • Tidy up the coffee station and re-stock, if needed.
  • Print out end-of-day report.
  • Close out the register.
  • Sweep, vacuum, and/or mop floors.
  • Count inventory in refrigerators.
  • Ensure that no food is left out.
  • Clean and sanitize refrigerators and dessert cases.
  • Ensure all refrigerators and dessert cases are set to 40°F.
  • Wipe down kitchen sinks and restock soap and paper towels, if needed.
  • Make note of anything that the next day’s staff should know for their service.
  • Punch out.

Laminating these checklists and making them visible in your restaurant’s workstations ensures that staff will always be reminded of the tasks at hand. It might also be helpful to keep dry erase markers nearby so that servers can cross off each item as it is completed. Depending on the staff size, duties can be divided between everyone, or they can rotate.

When your staff is more efficient, your restaurant operations are sure to run smoother. Keeping things organized and tidy allows for a more positive experience for customers and gives your staff the opportunity to clock out earlier at the end of the night, ultimately reducing your labor costs and increasing your profits. Now, who wouldn’t want that?

Why is turnover is so high, what is the actual cost, and how do you fix it? Find the answers in our Staff Management ebook.

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Written by   |  
Dawn Papandrea is freelance writer based in New York. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including Family Circle, WomansDay.com, and more. She loves trying new restaurants with her family and friends in her spare time.
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